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Episiotomy, Vacuum and Forceps During Labour and Birth

August 12, 2013 by HealthyFamilies BC

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doctors drying off newborn baby

 

 

Even if you're planning for a natural birth, it's good to be prepared for the fact that minor medical interventions may be needed.  

Here's a look at some of the most common ones.


Remember that it's not always possible to follow your birth wishes.

Labour and birth can be unpredictable and plans may change. You may wish to discuss this with your healthcare provider ahead of time. 

Episiotomy

An episiotomy is an incision (cut) made in the area between the vagina and rectum - freezing is usually given first. This cut enlarges the space for the baby to pass through the vaginal opening. After the placenta comes out, the cut is sewn shut with self dissolving stitches.

Vacuum

Sometimes, a soft plastic vacuum cup is placed on the baby's head and suction is used to help pull the baby out. The cup can leave a bruise and swelling, but this will fade a few days after birth. A vacuum is used if:

  • the mother has a prolonged pushing stage of labour
  • the mother is exhausted and unable to push effectively
  • the fetal heart rate slows, showing signs of stress

Forceps

Forceps are instruments placed around the baby's head and used to gently help pull the baby out. They can leave red marks or slight bruises on the baby's head, but marks soon fade. An episiotomy may be performed before forceps are used. Forceps are used if:

  • the mother has a prolonged pushing stage of labour
  • the mother is exhausted and unable to push effectively
  • the fetal heart rate slows, showing signs of stress
  • the position of the baby’s head needs to be changed

Resources & Links:
HealthLink BC: Labor and Delivery
HealthLink BC: Episiotomy and Perineal Tears
HealthLink BC: Childbirth: Forceps Delivery and Vacuum Extraction

 

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  1. Activity & Lifestyles
  2. Aging Well
  3. Pregnancy & Parenting
    1. Pregnancy & Birth
    2. Babies (0-12 months)
    3. Toddlers (12-36 months)
    4. Preschool (3-5 years)
    5. Children (6-11 years)
    6. Teens (12-18 years)
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